Manish Kochhal was no stranger to meditation, but he wanted a setting where he could practice in a more disciplined way. He found Advaita Meditation Center on the web and enrolled in Introduction to Meditation, our ten-week evening class. “Because I had meditated before, at first I thought I knew more than everyone else there,” recalls the 33-year-old. “But I was wrong. They really focused on practice—how to deepen your… practice of meditation.” Manish did just that and, in the process, realized there was more to learn. He wanted further guidance. At AMC, the next step is Initiation into Mantra Meditation.
“I just loved that class,” says Manish, a software engineer. “Not only did I learn the technique of mantra meditation, but the retreat where I was initiated was an unforgettable experience for me. I look forward to more retreats.”
His third class, Meditation and Advaita, pulled it all together, he says. “It combined meditation with philosophy, which validates your experiences. It’s like you know the ABCs, and now you are making sentences.”
Those sentences have an ongoing, positive impact on Manish’s life. “The center has taught me how to live in the present moment,” he says. “I continue taking classes in order to keep myself there.”
This higher level of awareness has produced greater satisfaction at work and at home—even when performing the most mundane chores. Relationships are better. “It is very difficult for people to frustrate me now,” he says. “That includes my baby son.”
Manish has high praise for the center’s teachers. “They are all highly educated, and they are very experienced at teaching meditation,” he says. “This is different from some other places, where you’re not sure if the teachers are certified or not.”
Looking back, Manish knows that he found the discipline and concentration on study that he sought. “I have benefited a lot from my experience at Advaita Meditation Center. I have recommended the center to friends.”
Guy Barbacano has learned to still his busy mind, and he says the benefits are striking. “I try to meditate twice a day, and for the most part, I do,” says Guy, a contractor who lives in Arlington. “It has really changed my life. I’m much more patient now. What I’ve learned at Advaita Meditation Center has filled something in my life, and it’s helped me with… my business.”
He wasn’t specifically seeking meditation, but he saw its effects when he began a new relationship. “My partner would say ‘Excuse me—I’m going to meditate,’” he recalls. “I saw how she reached a state of peace and restfulness. I have a strong spiritual connection; I pray every day. But I realized I had to learn to meditate.”
So four years ago, Guy, who is 55, took Introduction to Meditation. “We learned to be in the present—to slow things down and do things like pause before eating,” he says. “After meditating, it’s really wonderful to just be with yourself.”
He continued with Introduction to Mantra Meditation. “That class includes a lovely ritual when you receive your mantra. I find the tutors at Advaita Meditation Center to be fantastic; they are the nicest people. If you need help, they are there for you. I’ve made some wonderful friends.”
Subsequent classes have involved extensive reading. “It’s amazing that you can read ancient texts, as we do in class, and apply what you learn to things that happen to you today. I know I’m a beginner, but I’m invested in ongoing study.”
Guy has enjoyed day and weekend retreats, including at Hill House, the center’s lakeside property in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Volunteer service is a part of most retreats. “Since I’m a contractor, I’ve been happy to do some masonry work at Hill House,” he notes.
He is grateful for the positive changes that have come with ongoing meditation and study. “I appreciate living in the present,” he says.
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